Monday, April 26, 2010

Assorted Ramblings

We had a birthday party to attend this weekend, so on Saturday the kids and I packed up and headed out in search of the perfect gift.  F wanted to give a pail ("Like 'Ponyo', Mama!), D wanted to give some art supplies and B wasn't quite sure what he'd like to give, but knew he'd be able to find something.  I have been pretty resistant to toy-buying lately and was thinking a nice book, some art supplies and maybe some outdoor activity toys would be just the thing.  Being out with 4 kids dangerously close to nap time for the youngest, I had to choose the store carefully:  a store that would have everything we needed (to avoid needing to go to multiple stores) and a store that had carts to confine the girls.  I wanted to head into Borders as they have a great selection of books and art supplies, but the lack of cart had me biting my nails.  TJMaxx or Homegoods sometimes has good things for kids, but not always and I needed that one-stop shopping experience.  Reluctantly, I found myself turning into the Toys R Us parking lot.  We found the first 2 items on our list, but then did 2 loops around the store before asking a clerk if they had any books.  "Of course, follow me!" he said brightly and led us to an isle near the back that couldn't be more than 4 ft long.  There we found a sparse collection of books, mostly that made noise or did all the reading for the child, all Disney or Pixar or otherwise licensed by some major company.  I especially found the ones labeled "Children's Classics!" to be especially funny/sad in that they contained Toy Story, Cars and a Bugs Life stories...and nothing else.  I realize that Toys R Us is a toy store, but looking through the books offered was enough to make me snap back to my senses and propel my crew toward the exit.

I understand that toys are important...and that kids are kids are little for only a little while and should play and enjoy life!  But there is a line between items that spark creativity and imagination and those that just foster discontent, materialism and incurable cases of the "gimme's."  More and more lately I have been making the shift towards toys that inspire real play, and away from toys for toy's sake, piles of plastic junk in my kids' rooms that they don't even play with.  A play kitchen, a baby doll, legos, wooden blocks, dress up clothes - items that help children learn about real life.

I read this excellent article on Toys and children...and thought you all might enjoy.


I know I've talked quite a bit about stocking my store and so far haven't done it...but once again I'm giving it thought.  My new idea is to stock "sample sizes" - that is, small/newborn sizes that would be for sale but also would be  a representation of what I am able to do in a larger size for custom requests.  I suppose I just balk at the idea of purchasing large amounts of yarn to make larger sizes without a guarantee that they will sell.

Anyway, over the past few days I made these to be stocked:

newborn pilot cap

unblocked Market Day jacket


The sun is out and I am too!


  1. I loved what you said and the article about toys and children. I couldn't agree more! I have literally taken loads of "stuff" to the Goodwill. None of us miss a thing!

  2. I have also been backing away from toys as gifts. I have 3 children, and I can't believe the amount of "toys" I have donated over the years. The kids are 20, 18, & 14 and the things I have kept for the future...Dr. Seus books, classics (the originals!), childrens big book of bible stories, Legos, Imaginex, and dolls! Those are the things I will have for when my grandchildren visit. I have started the "savings bond" birthday, I take the 10-20 dollars I would have spent on toys, and give a savings bond, or the bank where I worked (Citizens bank) has a Let It Grow fund that is a savings account for children and anyone can add to it. Those are my new gift!

  3. I have a hard time buying toys for my nieces, too. I only buy educational toys, except the very rare barbie doll that is dressed like a princess (because Emma has an obsession with princess dollies). I'm also considering starting 539 savings accounts for them, instead of lots of gifts. I also buy things like clothes constantly, because that saves their parents a lot of money and it's something that they actually need as they get bigger. I don't think they have a lot of friends with kids who are slightly bigger sizes than their kids, so there's not a lot of hand-me-downs for Emma. If you know any families with girls who are size 8 and who need to pass their size 7's on, Emma will be in that size soon. She's a really tall 4 year old and kind of chubby, so she'll be out of 6x's soon. I think she'll wind up being at least 5'8" if not taller.

    What are you guys doing for saving for the kids educations? At some point, a posting on that topic would be useful for me as I try to figure out what to do about Emma and Lexi's college funds. I know that I am going to at first try to keep the savings accounts out of their names, since the savings in their names will impact their ability to get scholarships. I may just open separate accounts in my own name and put money in for them regularly - could be a better way to avoid them losing out on state, federal and school financial aid.

  4. I think its a great idea to put money in savings accounts for your nieces! We are thinking of asking for things like swimming lessons or music lessons for the kids for Christmas and birthdays to cut down on the toy issue as well as giving the kids something lasting that ordinarily we are unable to give them.
    As far as college goes, not a whole lot yet. Although we are mercifully debt free, there isn't a lot of wiggle room in our budget. I am planning on putting any "extra" money I make by knitting for others and/or writing towards that. We have no grand illusions of completely paying for our children's education. To be honest, even if we could, I'm not sure we would. We hope to instill a strong work ethic in our kids so they are dedicated to working hard in school for those scholarships as well as working summers to help pay for school.


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